EU doctors back elderly vitamin D fortification

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Vitamin d

A coalition of European doctors has recommended vitamin D be given to over-75s at 600-800IU per day, after meeting in England over the weekend.

The Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) said vitamin D deficiency was a “huge problem”​ that affected 50 per cent of Europeans, and so fortification measures were necessary.

“CPME calls on the EU Institutions to include vitamin D deficiency in the health agenda,”​ it said.

Several possible strategies exist to improve the vitamin D status in the major target groups but in some cases, vitamin D supplements or enriched food products are the only viable option. There is evidence that Vitamin D supplementation (600-800 IU D3) and a good calcium intake (about or above 1 g/d) would significantly reduce the risk of fractures and falls.”

They agreed a statement that read: "Vitamin D supplementation (600-800 IU D3) plus calcium should be considered for elderly people (older than 75 years) with an increased fracture and/or fall risk, in particular people living in nursing homes."

Vitamin D recommendations vary widely around the world, but 400IU per day is the most common recommended level for normal adults and is utilised in places like Canada, the US and some European countries. Lower RDA’s of 200IU are also common and different levels are common for particular sub-population groups such as women and children.

Much science backs levels as high as 2000IU per day or more.

At a recent conference that drew several hundred scientists in Bruges in Belgium, it was noted that there have been about 2000 vitamin D papers published on PubMed so far this year.

It was also revealed that some southern European countries have greater population-wide vitamin D deficiencies than their sun-deprived northern cousins.

Patrice McKenney, the chief executive officer of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, noted there remained skepticism among some sections of the population about the quality of food supplements, including vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency may precipitate or exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular​ diseases. There is also some evidence that the vitamin may reduce the incidence of several types of cancer and type 1 diabetes.

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